"I'm a new IFR pilot and must admit that I find the process of picking up a clearance difficult and intimidating. Any help would be appreciated." - Martin G.
“For many pilots, picking up a clearance can be very intimidating, especially if you’re dealing with controllers that have had a lot of coffee in the morning. And they’re spitting that clearance out as fast as they can.
Understand that a clearance is always going to follow the same format. We have some acronyms to help us with that. For example, CRAFT: it stands for the clearance limit, the route, the altitude, the departure frequency, and the transponder code. And it’s always going to follow that form, wherever we get our clearance from.
The next thing is certainly if you’ve got a speed freak reading back your clearance and you’re scrambling to write everything down and you can’t keep up with them, let go of what you’ve missed and continue to write. So that at least, you might miss the rest of the route, but you’re going to get the altitude, the departure frequency, and the squawk code.
Now when you do your read back, all you have to do is say (for example) well, Cardinal 20Q is cleared to Wilkes-Barre via direct ATHOS, rest of the route missing, climb and maintain 2000, expect 5000 in 10 minutes, departure frequency, etc. And now when they come back they’ll say okay, the rest of the route from ATHOS is Victor 270 DNY, etc. It can save a lot of time.
So don’t fixate on the fact that you missed something. Let go of it and continue to write and get the rest of it.”